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Based on county turnout reports we’ve seen covering today’s (Friday) activity, we estimate the number of early votes cast statewide during the first 5 days of the 2018 early voting period exceeds the total number of votes cast during the entire 12-day early voting period in 2014.

The pace of early voting still lags behind the pace set in 2016 but is otherwise ahead of every other presidential election at this point in those early voting periods and every gubernatorial election at any point in their early voting periods. Early voting continues through November 2.

Before we get into the record-breaking numbers at the county level, let’s look back at Day 4 (Thursday).

Day 4 turnout dipped slightly from Wednesday, and it has now fallen each day this week heading into today (Friday).

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As a result, 2018 turnout is losing ground on 2016 but is otherwise above every other early voting period in the state’s history.

Chart by Visualizer

The five counties with the highest turnout so far are Williamson (22.8%), Comal (22.6%), Hays (20.8%), Collin (20.6%) and Lubbock (20.5%). President Trump received 56% of the vote in these five counties in 2016.

The five counties with the lowest turnout so far are Webb (9.0%), Cameron (12.7%), Bell (13.2%), Harris (13.2%) and Bexar (14.2%). Trump received 41% of the vote in these counties.

Every one of the 15 counties with the most registered voters for which we have reliable data going back to 2006* has seen more early voters so far this year than in the corresponding periods in 2010 and 2014 combined.

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According to Republican strategist Derek Ryan’s latest analysis (PDF), primary voters continue to cast the vast majority of early votes. Republican primary voters have cast 34%, Democratic primary voters have cast 30% and mixed primary voters have cast 3% of all early votes so far. Voters with history in general elections only have cast 25% of ballots, and voters with no recent history have cast 8%. Those latter two numbers are a few percentage points higher than in the entire 2014 early voting period, but neither is high enough to threaten the hegemony held by primary voters, so far.

More than half of all voters who have participated in one party’s last four primary elections has already voted, and 45% of voters who have participated in three of one party’s last four primary elections has already voted, Ryan found. Voters under age 30 represent around 8% of all votes cast, up slightly from 2014.

Now, onto today, Day 5 (Friday). Turnout generally rebounded a bit from Wednesday and Thursday or at least remained level. Some highlights:

  • Harris Co. saw an uptick in turnout today. Just over 71K voted in person and by mail today, up from 63K yesterday. A total of 380K have voted in person and by mail during the first five days, which exceeds the 379K who voted during the entire 12-day early voting period in 2014.
  • In Tarrant Co., just over 40K voted in person and by mail today, a slight increase from Wednesday and Thursday’s numbers. Nearly 220K have voted in person and by mail during the first five days, which exceeds the 214K who voted during the entire 12-day early voting period in 2014.
  • In Bexar Co., just over 34K voted in person today, which is right about average for the first four days. Through five days, 172K people have voted early in person, which exceeds the 169K who voted in person during the entire 12-day early voting period in 2014.
  • In Denton Co., more than 20K voted in person today, a high for the week. Based on reports on the county’s web site, we calculate 105K have voted in person and by mail during the first five days. Turnout exceeds the entire 2014 early voting period and is ahead of the 2016 turnout through five days.
  • In Montgomery Co., 68K have voted early in person and by mail through the first five days, exceeding the number of votes cast during the entire 2014 early voting period.
  • In Williamson Co., more than 91K have voted early in person and by mail through the first five days, which exceeds the entire 2014 early voting period and is ahead of the 2016 pace through the first five days.

Elsewhere around the state, counties are reporting turnout in excess of the 2014 total. In Bell Co., nearly 31K votes have been cast, well above the 22K cast during the entire 2014 early voting period. Nearby Coryell Co.’s turnout also already exceeds the 2014 early voting total. In Ellis Co., nearly 25K people have voted early in person or by mail so far, way over the 16K total votes cast early in 2014. In Gregg Co., more than 14K people have voted early, exceeding the 2014 total of 13K. In Rusk Co., nearly 6K people have voted early, well above the 5K who voted in the entire 2014 early voting period.

In Midland Co., nearly 18K have voted early in person and by mail, easily surpassing the 13K who voted during the entire 2014 early voting period. In Tom Green Co., more than 11K votes have been cast early, well above the 9K who voted during the 2014 early voting period. In Victoria Co., just over 10K votes have been cast early, which is more than the 9K cast during the entire early voting period in 2014.

Early voting turnout in 2018 is already the highest ever seen for a gubernatorial election. It is very close to the total early voting turnout for the 2004 election and will likely surpass it tomorrow (Saturday) if it hasn’t already.

* This group of counties includes Nueces Co., which was supplanted by Brazoria Co. this year.

©2018 Texas Election Source LLC